Parks & Trails NY is hosting its inaugural Cycle The Hudson Valley bike tour, taking advantage of the new Empire State Trail that traverses the entire north-south length of the state, from Canada down to the tip of Manhattan. This trip starts midway, in Troy, on July 29 and follows the Empire State Trail 200 miles south, ending in the Big Apple a week later. This seven-day fully-supported tour is limited to the first 300 cyclists who sign up.
Daily routes average 30-50 miles/day with additional mileage options for riders wanting more. The route is 63% paved and 13% crushed stone dust trail, with 24% on road, and will take bicyclists through the cities, villages, countryside and parklands of the picturesque Hudson River Valley.
On the second night of Cycle the Hudson Valley, the tour rolls into the village of Hudson, which has become quite a mecca for art galleries and boutique shops. The group spends the next two nights in Kingston, the first capital of New York State, where George Clinton was sworn in as the first Governor almost 246 years ago to the day that the group will be in town. On the lay-over day cyclists can explore by biking an optional loop or strolling through the Kingston Stockade District(on the National Register of Historic Places) or visiting the Hudson River Maritime Museum.
On Day Four, cyclists ride over the incredibly popular Walkway Over the Hudson, an elevated multi-use park that spans 1.28 miles, and soars 212 feet above the Hudson River into Poughkeepsie on the eastern shore. Shuttles will be available to take cyclists to visit the FDR Home and Library and the renowned Culinary Institute of America. The next day’s countryside ride ends in the charming hamlet of Carmel.
The last overnight brings the tour close to NYC. Riding along the Hudson River Greenway offers river views most of the way. The tour ends at Battery Park with a stunning view of the Statue of Liberty. Cyclists can visit the 9/11 Memorial Pools, or book a trip to Ellis Island and the Statue of Liberty. There’s also a superb National Museum of the American Indian, part of the Smithsonian, located in the historic Alexander Hamilton US Custom House at One Bowling Green, across from Battery Park.
Set A Goal To Run, Walk, or Bicycle the New 750-Mile Recreation Trail This Spring
Registration Is Now Open Here For Four-Month Challenge
The Empire State Trail has formed a partnership with the nationally-known Boilermaker race to create the “Empire State Trail Challenge” – a four-month virtual race where participants can register and log their miles to reach milestones tied to virtual progress along the Empire State Trail.
Earlier this year, Governor Andrew Cuomo announced completion of the Trail, now the nation’s longest multi-use state trail. Following New York’s historic canal systems and rail trails, the new recreational trail spans the state from New York City to Canada and from Albany to Buffalo, and gives bicyclists, hikers, runners, cross-country skiers, snowshoers and others a safe and scenic pathway to experience New York State’s incredibly diverse landscapes.
“The Empire State Trail Challenge brings together two giants of outdoor recreation in New York State – our new 750-mile Empire State Trail and Utica’s classic Boilermaker race,” Governor Cuomo said. “As we continue to come back from the COVID-19 health crisis, the challenge is a great way to show how we can have fun and be New York Tough at the same time. I encourage any interested New Yorkers to participate in this exciting event on our incredible new statewide trail.”
The Boilermaker organization has held a 15-kilometer running race in Utica since 1978, which has grown into one of the largest 15K races in the country, attracting 10,000 to 15,000 participants annually. With the Boilermaker and most in-person races postponed due to COVID, the virtual Empire State Trail Challenge initiative will engage participants and provide a unique race experience throughout the spring season.
“Creating opportunities for healthy activity and lifestyles lies at the core of the Boilermaker mission,” Boilermaker Marketing Director Jordan Peters said. “So it was a natural fit to work in concert with New York State to provide New Yorkers with an opportunity to get outside and participate in a safe and healthy endeavor while highlighting the features of the Empire State Trail.”
The Boilermaker Empire State Trail Challenge is a four-month virtual race through July 31. Participants can register now and begin logging their miles walking, running or cycling on Friday, April 9. Participants would complete the mileage of at least one leg of the Empire State Trail: either the Hudson Valley Trail: 210 miles (New York City to Albany); the Erie Canalway Trail: 350 miles (Albany to Buffalo); or the Champlain Valley: 190 miles (Albany to Canada Border at Rouses Point). Participants can sign up as teams or individuals. For more information or to register, visit the website.
Although people are encouraged to the explore the actual Empire State Trail, participants can run, walk, or ride anywhere geographically, on local trails and running/bicycling routes near where they live to log and complete the challenge.
Each entrant would receive a t-shirt with their $25 entrance fee for a single leg of the trail. If interested, participants can register for additional legs at the time of registration or any time during the race period at $5 per leg. Challenge participants will enter their mileage on an online platform over the duration of the race window, reaching milestones tied to virtual progress along the Empire State Trail, and have the ability to share their experiences on social media.
State Parks Commissioner Erik Kulleseid said, “The Empire State Trail Challenge is one of the ways we are building back better at our state parks and trails. Our parks and trails have been safe and healthy outlets for everyone during the pandemic. Whether enjoying a fun nature break with friends and family, or truly testing their limits, the Empire State Trail Challenge offers participants of all ages and abilities a rewarding and socially distanced opportunity to enjoy New York’s outdoors.”
“The partnership with the Boilermaker is a great way to introduce the Empire State Trail to those across New York State and the nation who take part in the storied race every year,” Empire State Trail Director Andy Beers said. “The Empire State Trail is an ideal pathway for runners, bicyclists, and walkers to get outside and exercise, while learning about the iconic landscapes, local communities, and historic and cultural attractions along the 750-mile trail.
Director of the New York State Canal Corporation Brian U. Stratton said, “This exciting new partnership will offer thousands of New Yorkers and Boilermaker runners from around the country a chance to see the very best of our state, encouraging safe and responsible outdoor recreation along the lengths of the Empire State Trail. Governor Cuomo’s ongoing Reimagine the Canals program is based on forward-looking partnerships like this, which bring together communities and New Yorkers to lift up local economies and showcase the exceptional history of the Erie Canal, as well as the tremendous upgrades and new attractions being constructed along its banks.”
“The Empire State Trail is the newest jewel in New York State’s tourism crown and the Challenge is an opportunity to promote the trail to those looking for unique ways to experience the great outdoors,” New York State Executive Director of Tourism Ross D. Levi said. “We hope that events like the Empire State Trail Challenge inspire more people to utilize the trail as a centerpiece of a getaway to the many the communities it touches across the state.”
The Empire State Trail website provides quick and easy access to trail information along the 750-mile route including segment descriptions and an on-line map identifying off-road trails connecting on-road sections, trail distances, designated parking areas, restrooms, and nearby amenities and attractions.
Here is what well may be the first bike touring company to come out with a guided, inn-to-inn trip along the recently completed Empire State Trail in New York State: Discovery Bicycle Tours’ has introduced a six-day itinerary that rides from the very tip of Manhattan, to Albany.
The six-day trip rides 200 miles of the newly completed Empire State Trail, which actually extends 750 miles from Manhattan to Canada and from Buffalo to Albany.
The Discovery Bicycle Tour goes through a wide variety of landscapes in New York State. Cycle passed the Freedom Tower and Manhattan skyscrapers, through forests, along lakes and rivers, with a triumphant finish in Albany, the state capital. You can be one of the first to enjoy this full section of the newly finished Empire State Trail, which allows cyclists to traverse the state almost entirely on dedicated hike/bike paths and routes.
Cycle up the west side of Manhattan Island on the Hudson River Greenway and see the waterfront and famous buildings. Spin along the Hudson with views of the towering cliffs known as the Palisades, into historic villages and through forests and farmland. Then leave the bustle of suburbia behind as you enter rural lands and farm country.
Many miles are on dedicated rail-trail. And the riding is fairly flat with gentle hills. Look for vistas of the Catskill and Shawangunk mountains as you follow the gorgeous Hudson River Valley — favorite subject of Romantic landscape painters in the mid-1800s. As a bonus, you cycle across the Walkway Over the Hudson, the world’s longest elevated pedestrian bridge, and the iconic Rosendale Trestle.
Visit the villages of Rhinebeck, Hudson and Mahopac and the town of New Paltz — with chances to enjoy fascinating history, architecture and stunning scenery.
You can take advantage of optional leader-led segments through the urban areas of New York City and the outskirts of Albany — or ride them on your own. At the finish, you can explore Albany itself or continue your travels home by air or train from there. Or let us give you a lift back to your car at the start.
Start with a Sunday morning spin up the west side of Manhattan — with thrilling views on both sides of the Hudson River. You can choose to ride the city stretches with the leader or on your own.
Then continue north to visit historic villages on newly paved bike paths and quiet roads. Many miles are on dedicated rail-trail. And the riding is fairly flat with gentle hills.Look for vistas of the Catskill and Shawangunk mountains as you follow the gorgeous Hudson River Valley — favorite subject of Romantic landscape painters in the mid-1800s. As a bonus, you cycle across the Walkway Over the Hudson, the world’s longest elevated pedestrian bridge.
Rated Level 1 (easier), daily cycling mileage ranges from 28 to 47 miles.
Accommodations are in casual and historic inns and a stylish boutique bed-and-breakfast.
The tour includes: 5 nights’ lodging, 5 breakfasts, 3 lunches, 4 dinners (you are on your own for 1 dinner in Rhinebeck), cycling routes with detailed maps and/or app-based navigation for those interested, plus bicycle, helmet, tour guides and van support, free week-long parking for guest cars in Hawthorne, NY. Free transfer on final day to either the Rensselaer Train Station (Albany) or take the van transit back to Hawthorne.
This is huge for New York State’s tourism and recreational
opportunities: Governor Andrew M. Cuomo’s is proposing a $300 million plan
to reimagine the Erie Canal by creating recreational activities on the Canal to
boost tourism and recreational
fishing, mitigate flooding, enhance irrigation and restore wetlands.
“When the Erie Canal was created in the
19th century it set the state and the nation on a path to
prosperity, and this year we will repurpose the canal to fit our state’s
21st century needs,” Governor
Cuomo said. “This bold and visionary plan to transform
this historic waterway will build on the success of the Empire State Trail (750
miles of connected bikeways), grow tourism across Upstate New York,
improve resilience of today’s Canal communities and ensure the
economic sustainability of the waterway into the future.”
“The canals have played a crucial role in New York’s history and
growth, and with the implementation of these new exciting projects, the canals
will remain a vital force and make a positive contribution to the economic
well-being and quality of life in the 225 communities they travel through,”
said Lieutenant Governor Kathy Hochul.
A first phase of funding starting this year – through the New
York Power Authority Board which oversees the Canal Corporation as a subsidiary
– includes a $100 million economic development fund to invest
in communities along the Canal and a separate $65 million investment
in solutions that will help prevent ice jams and related flooding in the
The remaining $135 million of the plan’s funding will subsequently be allocated
to research recommended by the Reimagine Task Force, as well
as to solutionsrelated to flood mitigation,
invasive species prevention and ecosystem restoration.
New Economic Development Fund for Canal Communities
In the first phase of the program, a $100 million economic
development fund will support projects that adaptively reuse canal
infrastructure to enhance water recreation, tie the Canal’s new
recreational improvements to the Governor’s Empire State Trail,
celebrate historic canal structures, and develop unique canalside
attractions and activities. Roughly $25 million of that will be allocated
immediately to a set of initial projects:
Connecting Communities: The “Brockport Loop” project in Monroe County will
connect SUNY College at Brockport to the Empire State
Trailand the village of Brockport through
the transformation of a canal guard-gate into a
pedestrian bridge and overlook, with a supporting grant of $2 million
from the Ralph Wilson Foundation.
Celebrating “Iconic Infrastructure”:Interactive, hydro-powered illumination of Canal “movable
dams” – initially in
Amsterdam and Canajoharie in the
Mohawk River valley – will celebrate the Canal’s
heritage and its history as an engineering marvel.
Expanding Water Recreation: A new whitewater destination, at the north end of Cayuga Lake near Seneca
Falls, will rely on existing water control infrastructure to construct an
active water sports course adjacent to the Montezuma National
Wildlife Refuge, to increase eco-tourism and sport visitors to the region.
Adapting Industrial Property for New
Uses: Winner of the Reimagine the Canals competition,
a canalside pocket neighborhood, will be developed by Madison
County in Central New York at a former industrial
property in Canastota along the Old Erie Canal –
demonstrating a new model for 21st century canalside living.
Developing Destination Accommodations: The
historic Guy Park Manor, on the Mohawk River in
Amsterdam, will be reborn as a hospitality destination and a
pedestrian bridge constructed
across the already-existing Canal lock will provide
access to additional overnight accommodation along the Empire
State Trail on the opposite side of the river.
World-Class Fishing and Restored Wetlands
To create world-class fishing in Western New York, the new
plan recommends managing water releases from the Canal to enhance fish
habitat, improve angling opportunities, and extend the fall fishing season in
Lake Ontario tributaries. It also includes funding to expand public
fishing access along key streams in Orleans, Monroe and Niagara
Counties. In addition, it identifies a program to divert Canal water to restore and
re-nourish wetlands in Central New York that were compromised a
century ago by the Canal’s construction. This will allow areas in
close proximity to the Montezuma National Wildlife Refuge, a migratory
stopover for more than 1 million birds each
year, to be significantly enhanced to further
attract naturalists, locals, and visitors from throughout the region and
Ideas in this plan originated from the Reimagine the
Canals Task Force recommendations, launched by
Governor Cuomo in May of 2019 to pursue a
comprehensive investigation of how the 195-year-old Erie Canal
could be reimagined for the 21st century. The Reimagine
the Canals Task Force Report was just released.
The Task Force engaged with municipal leaders, stakeholders, local
business owners, scientists and other experts, along with community
members, to identify opportunities and solutions that support a
new vision for future investments in the waterway. Many of the ideas that the
Task Force explored came from the completed Reimagine the Canals competition, held
last year by the New York Power Authority and New York State Canal
Corporation. SUNY’s Rockefeller Institute of Government, on behalf of
the Task Force, conducted a series of outreach sessions during the summer
in five canal communities – Lockport, Brockport, Schenectady, Utica and
Syracuse – to solicit new ideas from the public at large. Ideas were also
solicited on a Reimagine the Canals website, offering more
distant canal users an opportunity to provide their views to the Task Force.
The “Reimagine” initiative builds on successful
efforts by Governor Cuomo to invest in the canal corridor, including
the state’s Downtown Revitalization Initiative and successful Taste NY program, which have stoked new industries,
businesses and housing in canal communities. Harnessing the Canal’s full
potential to attract more tourism and recreation is a key focus of the
Initiative. Governor Cuomo and state agency and authority staff
will collaborate with Empire Line communities and continue to consult with
Task Force members and other stakeholders to ensure the success
of projects as they move forward.
There are 1.6 million trips taken annually on the Erie Canal Trailway,
the former towpath used by mules and horses to pull barges in the canals’ early
days. The Trailway is part of Governor Cuomo’s Empire State Trail,
which at 750 miles will be the largest state multi-use trail network when
completed in late 2020. Governor DeWitt Clinton began work on the original
Erie Canal on July 4, 1817.
In addition to investing $300 million in the Canal System, there are
also plans to create two new state parks in the
Hudson Valley, add 4,000 acres of land to parks and introduce a $3 billion
“Restore Mother Nature” bond act.
Meanwhile, registration has opened for the
22nd Annual Cycle the Erie, eight-day 400-mile, fully supported biking/camping
trip, from Buffalo to Albany, operated by Parks & Trails NY, taking place
July 12-19, 2020. For information on
Cycle the Erie Canal, call Parks & Trails New York, 518-434-1583, email [email protected] or visit www.ptny.org/cycle-the-erie-canal.
New York State Governor Andrew M. Cuomo, in his 2017 State of the State policy pronouncements, has proposed completing the Hudson River Valley Greenway and Erie Canalway trails by 2020 to create the Empire State Trail, the largest state multi-use trail in the nation. To achieve this, the state will develop 350 miles of new trail in three phases to create a 750-mile pathway for hiking and biking along scenic vistas and through charming, historic communities. The Empire State Trail will span much of the state, from the New York Harbor up through the Adirondack Mountains to the Canadian border – and from the shores of Lake Erie along the historic Erie Canal to the heart of the Capital Region.
“The scenic natural beauty that spans every corner of this state is key to our prosperity, vital to our future and part of who we are as New Yorkers,” Governor Cuomo said. “The Empire State Trail, once completed, will be the nation’s largest state multi-use trail network, providing residents and visitors alike unprecedented access to New York’s outdoor treasures, driving tourism and economic activity to communities across the state and helping to protect our environmental resources for generations to come.”
New York’s existing Hudson River Valley Greenway and the Erie Canalway are two of the most renowned multi-use trailways in the United States, but both trails remain unfinished with a number of gaps across the state. Currently, the Hudson River Valley Greenway is nearly 50 percent complete and crosses the Appalachian Trail, spanning over 260 miles between the Manhattan Battery and Lake George. The trail closely, and in many places parallels State Bike Route 9, which extends the Greenway an additional 130 miles along Lake Champlain to the Canadian border. The Hudson River Valley Greenway generates more than $21 million in economic impact annually from visitors stopping in communities along the trails.
The Erie Canalway is nearly 80 percent complete and runs approximately 360 miles along the storied Erie Canal, connecting Buffalo to Albany. The Governor’s commitment to complete this trail coincides with the bicentennial of the Erie Canal, as construction of the engineering marvel begin in 1817. Each year, approximately 1.5 million people use the Erie Canalway Trail along the historic Erie Canal, resulting in an estimated $253 million in economic activity from visitor spending. The Buffalo-Pendleton segment is the most heavily used part of the Canalway Trail with approximately 350,000 annual users. With this proposal, remaining gaps will be completed, connecting the two trails to establish the New York’s Empire State Trail.
Once the Empire State Trail is complete, the trails will attract more hikers, bikers, and cross country skiers than ever before and provide access to destinations, heritage areas, and historic sites and districts including:
Hudson River Valley Greenway
Battery Park, NYC
· Walkway Over the Hudson, Poughkeepsie
· Olana State Historic Site, Hudson
· Martin Van Buren National Historic Site, Kinderhook
· Schodack Island State Park, Schodack Landing
· Saratoga National Battlefield, Stillwater
· Fort Ticonderoga, Ticonderoga
Erie Canalway Trail
Theodore Roosevelt Inaugural Historic Site, Buffalo
· Buffalo State Park, Buffalo
· The Salt Museum on Onondaga Lake, Liverpool
· The Montezuma National Wild Refuge, Seneca Falls
· The Great New York State Fair, Syracuse
· Oriskany Battlefield State Historic Site, Oriskany
· Fort Stanwix National Monument, Rome
This extensive trail network will enhance community connectivity and support healthy lifestyles by providing both urban and rural communities access to endless outdoor recreational opportunities. These long distance destination trails are economic drivers that can generate $1.5 – 5 million in annual economic impact for surrounding communities. Additionally, this trail network is expected to support an estimated 9.6 jobs for every $1 million invested, and every dollar will yield $3 in direct medical benefits for surrounding communities. The trails will also draw tourists from around the world to explore New York’s striking landscapes and rich history, while enjoying local bed and breakfasts, hotels, restaurants, wineries, breweries, farmsteads, and cultural attractions along the way.
Empire State Trail Website and Mobile App Launch
A new trail website and mobile app will launch to further connect New Yorkers and visitors to the state’s great outdoors. Both the website and app will feature a list of greenways, trails with hiking descriptions, and their level of difficulty. The app will allow users to find services and attractions nearby using location services with the option to share the user’s exact location with friends, or first responders, in the case of an emergency. Social sharing options will also be available, to share photos on Instagram, Facebook and Twitter. A live tour map, walking and driving directions, are available as well as an elevation reader that lets users know when trails cross hills and mountains.
The trail system will provide travelers access to a number of signature attractions, all of which can be found on the website and mobile app, including Battery Park, Walkway Over the Hudson, Corning Preserve, Lake George, Schenectady Rivers Casino, the Erie Canal Museum, the Buffalo Naval Military Park, local breweries, and other lodging accommodations and family-friendly destinations found along the Empire State Trail.
“Parks, historic sites, and heritage areas are the very fabric of our local communities and the Empire State Trail will further connect these treasured resources with all New Yorkers, neighbors and friends,” said New York State Parks Commissioner Rose Harvey.“Governor Cuomo is rejuvenating the state park system and now with the creation of the Empire State Trail we are deepening the connection and sharing many of these wonderful treasures and all it takes is a bike ride or casual stroll.”
“New York’s natural resources are truly world class destinations and through Governor Cuomo’s leadership, the new Empire State Trail will establish important connections to offer residents and visitors even more opportunities to experience all the state has to offer,” said New York State Department of Environmental Conservation Commissioner Basil Seggos. “I look forward to working with our partners in State Parks, to expand and enhance marketing of all the outdoor adventures one can have throughout the state, and continuing to help communities across the state capitalize on the economic potential of outdoor recreation.”
New York State Canal Corporation Director Brian Stratton said, “Tens of thousands of people already use the Canal trail year-round for hiking, biking, jogging and cross-country skiing. I’m beyond thrilled that Governor Cuomo has proposed completing the trail along the entire length of the Erie Canal. Now, more people will be able to enjoy all this iconic waterway has to offer as we celebrate the canal system’s bicentennial in 2017.”
Meanwhile, the US Department of Interior has just designated New York State Barge Canal as a national historic landmark. “This massive early-twentieth century enlargement of New York’s canal system was an embodiment of a Progressive Era emphasis on public works. The New York State Barge Canal was built explicitly to counter the growing monopoly of railroad corporations over the American economy. The spine of the canal is a direct descendant of the Erie Canal, which opened the interior of North America to settlement and commercial agriculture, transforming the Atlantic economy.”
19th Annual Cycle the Erie 400-Mile Ride Returns July 9-16
Each year, Parks & Trails New York, a nonprofit organization dedicated to advocating and raising funds for the maintenance of New York’s trails and greenways, organizes an eight-day, 400-mile trip from one end of the Erie Canal in Buffalo, to the end, in Albany. The 19th annual Cycle the Erie Canal , is scheduled July 9-16, 2017, just in time to celebrate the beginning of the bicentennial celebration of the Canal.
Join more than 650 cyclists from across the country and the world cycling and visiting iconic port towns such as Lockport and Brockport, and places rich in history such as Seneca Falls and Rome, and visit charming small towns, museums, and historic sites which collectively tell the story of America. Marvel at the natural beauty of the rolling farmland of America’s original frontier and experience 19th century engineering innovation.
The trip is supported, which means your luggage and camping gear is transported from each campsite (typically schools and recreation centers) to the next, so all you have to do is cycle from one attraction to the next. A team of SAG vehicles provides peace of mind knowing that you’ll be taken care of if you need mechanical support.
There are some updates for 2017:
Return shuttle: for the third consecutive year, we’ll be offering riders from Buffalo and points west our shuttle from Albany back to Buffalo at the end of the ride.
Erie Canal Trailblazers: Interested in cycling the whole tour for $100? Become a Cycle the Erie Canal Trailblazer and fundraise to help PTNY Close the Gaps in the Erie Canalway Trail. Registration is only $100 and includes a free Cycle the Erie Canal jersey, guidebook, and special recognition on the tour. Trailblazer registration also opens on January 3.
Cycle the Erie Canal Jersey: A must-have souvenir from the ride. Other merchandise options for this year’s ride include a commemorative Cycle the Erie Canal pint glass, an ECT sticker, our best-selling guidebook, and new for 2017, a Cycle the Erie Canal cap. Visit the PTNY shop for more information about these items.
Four-day and Weekend Options: If you don’t have the time for the entire eight-day tour, consider a shorter getaway on the Erie Canalway Trail. PTNY’s four-day and weekend options allowing you to fit the tour to your schedule. They are also great for families with kids and inexperienced riders.